TIME weather

California Storm Hits South After Drenching North

"Pineapple Express" storm caused widespread flooding

LOS ANGELES — A dangerous storm that flooded Northern California freeways, kept thousands from work and school, and forced scores of evacuations moved into the southern part of the state, spreading light showers in the Los Angeles area that will intensify as Friday progresses.

Rain began falling on parts of the San Fernando Valley late Thursday night, and powerful winds that were pushing the storm southward caused power outages for thousands around Santa Barbara and other parts of the coast.

Precautionary evacuations brought on by fear of mudslides began at 10 p.m. in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora, where the foothills were stripped bare by a major wildfire earlier this year.

Forecasters predicted winds would pick up speed as the storm moved further south.

Denise George, who sells boats in Marina Del Rey, said that was her main worry.

“We make sure the halyards are secure, the canvasses are fastened so nothing gets blown off or opened up, so yes we are battening down the hatches for sure,” George said.

On Thursday, the brunt of the storm and its torrential rains hit the San Francisco Bay Area and the surrounding region, pushing waterways toward flood stage, toppling trees, and cutting power to thousands.

“It’s a big storm, as we expected, and it’s headed south with very powerful winds and heavy rainfall,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Will Pi.

In Oregon, the winds proved deadly. A falling tree killed a homeless man who was sleeping on a trail, and a teenage boy died after a large tree fell on the vehicle in which he was riding, causing it to swerve and hit another tree.

Falling trees also injured a man in southwest Washington state, and a sixth-grader at an elementary school in Santa Cruz, California.

The system’s powerful winds temporarily knocked out power to more than 150,000 customers in western Washington state.

This “Pineapple Express” storm carried warm air and vast amounts of water in a powerful current stretching from Hawaii to the West Coast and up into the mountains, where gusts up to 140 mph blew through passes.

The current left San Francisco drenched but balmy, with 60-degree temperatures, about 5 degrees above average for this time of year.

Waves slammed onto waterfronts around the Bay Area, ferries were bound to their docks, airplanes were grounded and many schools and businesses told people to stay home.

The gusts made motorists tightly grip their steering wheels on the Golden Gate Bridge, where managers created a buffer zone to prevent head-on collisions by swerving cars.

The iconic suspension bridge is engineered to swing in cross winds, so “the concern we have right now is more about vehicles,” spokeswoman Priya David Clemens said.

Sonoma County authorities recommended that hundreds of people evacuate at least 300 homes in the lowest lying areas near the Russian River, which was expected to start overflowing overnight. Peak flooding in the towns of Guerneville and Monte Rio was anticipated by 10 a.m. Friday, forecasters said.

Authorities warned of minor flooding along the Sacramento River in Tehama County and Cache Creek in Yolo County.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews worked to restore power to 110,000 people, down from 166,000 earlier Thursday.

There were multiple accidents on flooded roads, and several trees crunched cars. Interstate 5, California’s critical north-south thruway, was closed by flooding in the northern town of Weed. In Marin County, heavy rains washed out a portion of state Route 1.

Disembarking from a ferry in San Francisco, Malcolm Oubre said some people were overreacting.

“I know it’s a big storm supposedly, but they’re treating it like it’s a hurricane,” he said.

Teenagers drove trucks through a flooded Safeway parking lot to make waves for kayakers in Healdsburg as grocery shoppers trudged through several feet of water to get supplies.

East Coast kids revel in snow days, but closures are rare on the West Coast, so Thursday’s canceled classes were a novelty in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sonoma and Santa Cruz County.

Surfers welcomed big, choppy swells from the same high seas that sent towering sprays of water airborne along breakfronts in San Francisco and Monterey.

Ski resorts in the northern Sierra Nevada — where schools and roads were closed by whiteout conditions and power outages — were hoping for 3 feet of snow once it all settles.

While rains were expected to continue through Friday evening across much of California, California’s farmers would need more storms this size to even begin to recover from a record drought.

TIME Spain

Spanish News To Vanish From Google News Globally

People in Latin America where Spanish news organizations are trying to boost audiences won't get to see Spanish news

MADRID — Google’s decision to close Google News in Spain because of a law requiring aggregators to pay news publishers for linking content also means that the publishers’ content will vanish around the world.

The company said it will block reports from Spanish publishers from its more than 70 Google News international editions in addition to the Spain shutdown on Dec. 16 — two weeks before a new Spanish intellectual property law takes effect.

That means people in Latin America where Spanish news organizations are trying to boost audiences won’t see that news via Google News in Mexico and elsewhere.

Spain’s AEDE association, which represents large news publishers, lobbied for the law nicknamed the “Google Tax.”

The association declined comment Thursday on Google Inc.’s decision.

It’s the first Google News shutdown.

TIME awards

‘Boyhood’ and ‘Birdman’ To Vie For Golden Globe Nominations

72nd annual Golden Globe nominations will be announced Thursday morning

NEW YORK — Revelers in Hollywood’s quickening awards season will be pushed to two sides of the dance floor in Thursday’s Golden Globes nominations: drama and comedy.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s way of dividing the movie world in half should result in some extra love for funnier films often edged out by their more serious brethren. Expect the likes of Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel,” the Disney musical “Into the Woods” and Bill Murray’s “St. Vincent” to find room among this season’s favorites such as “Boyhood,” ”Birdman,” ”Selma” and “The Imitation Game.”

The drama-comedy separation isn’t always clean (the black-and-white yuckfest “Nebraska” somehow squeaked into comedy last year), but the Globes’ embrace of comedy (along with hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) has often made for a livelier mix.

The 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards will be announced Thursday morning the approximately 8:20 a.m. EST. The nominations will be streamed live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on GoldenGlobes.com, with top categories also carried live by NBC’s “Today.” Kate Beckinsale, Jeremy Piven, Paula Patton and Peter Krause will be on hand to read the nominees.

For the third time in a row, the Globes telecast will be hosted by Fey and Poehler. The show will air live from the Beverly Hilton on Sunday, Jan. 11. Last year’s awards drew 20.9 million viewers, marking it the most-watched Globes since 2004.

The Hollywood Foreign Press, a collection of about 85 largely freelance journalists, is known for their occasionally curious picks and their penchant for finding reason to honor big-name celebrities. So some curveballs will likely be tossed Thursday, though their influence on the larger Oscar race will be less certain.

Thus far, Richard Linklater’s long-in-the-making coming-of-age drama “Boyhood” has emerged as the awards season favorite, taking top honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. But support is also strong for the Michael Keaton-led “Birdman” (which topped the Gotham Independent Awards), the civil rights drama “Selma,” the World War II code-breaker tale “The Imitation Game” and the Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything.”

On Wednesday, the Screen Actors Guild — a strong predictor of the Academy Awards since its memberships overlap a lot — nominated the ensemble casts of “Birdman,” ”Boyhood,” ”The Imitation Game,” ”The Theory of Everything” and “Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Last year, the Globes chose the eventual Academy Awards best-picture winner, “12 Years a Slave,” as its best drama. Best comedy or musical went to “American Hustle.”

TIME weather

A Powerful Storm Is Pounding Northern California

A massive system of moist moves across California's west coast. Weather forecast has dubbed it as the largest storm to hit the region since 2009. Dec. 11, 2014.
A massive system of moist moves across California's west coast. Weather forecast has dubbed it as the largest storm to hit the region since 2009. Dec. 11, 2014. Corbis

As much as 8 inches of rain could fall on coastal mountains over a 24-hour period

SAN FRANCISCO — A storm expected to be one of the windiest and rainiest in five years pushed across parts of Northern California early Thursday as schools canceled classes and residents stocked up on supplies.

Moderate rain and gusty winds hit the area north of San Francisco with heavier rain expected in the coming hours across the region, the National Weather Service said. The storm could also cause debris slides, especially in areas affected by this year’s intense and widespread wildfires. Big waves are expected along the coast.

As much as 8 inches of rain could fall on coastal mountains over a 24-hour period, the weather service said.

“It’s a short amount of time for that amount of water,” forecaster Diana Henderson said. “We are anticipating some localized flooding, maybe some downed trees and downed power lines. It could have an effect on a wide range of people.”

Meteorologist Charles Bell predicted that major elements of the storm would hit the San Francisco Bay area by late morning.

The storm is “going to be advancing toward the south through the day today,” Bell said Thursday. Winds were also picking up, he said, noting gusts of up to 50 mph were hitting some buoys off the coast.

Residents rushed to buy emergency supplies, with some stores running out of water, batteries and flashlights. Some cities announced on their Twitter accounts that they had no sandbags or sand left by Wednesday evening.

The Citrus Heights Police Department tweeted Wednesday: “Sandbag locations in CH are closed. All bags and sand has been taken. All sand & bags were taken in 3hr period.”

Ski resorts in the northern Sierra Nevada could get more than 2 feet of snow.

The storm is expected to later pound parts of Southern California before a weakening system moves east through Nevada, Idaho, Arizona and New Mexico. Those states could get rain and snow, but nothing like what California is expected to experience, forecasters say.

In San Francisco, where as much as 4 inches of rain was forecast, crews cleared storm drains and removed loose rocks from a hillside to prevent them from crashing down. Residents were advised to sweep up leaves and debris in front of their properties to prevent them from clogging drains.

“We have crews working starting tonight in 12-hour shifts,” said Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for San Francisco’s public works agency. “It will be all hands on deck.”

Public schools in several Bay Area cities, including San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, and some private schools canceled Thursday’s classes.

Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were expected on mountain tops, creating possible blizzard conditions in the Sierra. Rain, pounding surf and gusty winds were forecast for Southern California starting Thursday evening.

The weather service issued a high-surf advisory from the Central Coast to Ventura County, saying “waves will over-top jetties and sea walls at times” and “will potentially wash into low-lying beach areas or parking lots.”

In California’s agricultural heartland, farmers were looking forward to the dousing after three consecutive dry years. Parts of the state have experienced above-average rainfall this year but not enough to make much of a dent in the drought.

James McFarlane, a third-generation farmer in Fresno County, said workers would have to stop picking citrus crops during the storm, but rain this time of year makes fruit bigger, allowing it to fetch higher prices.

“If we’re not getting some Mother-Nature-dictated time off out in the field, that probably means we’re going to have a hard time finding surface water in the warmer months,” he said.

The rain and the snow in the Sierra Nevada fill reservoirs that supply irrigation water during hot, dry months.

Farther north, a series of strong weather fronts with high winds and heavy rains could lead to flooding and landslides in western Washington.

The weather service expects as much as 14 inches of rain between Monday and Thursday in the Olympic Mountains west of Seattle.

Saturated soils will bring the risk of mudslides, while winds could topple trees.

High winds were also forecast in Oregon.

TIME Middle East

Palestinians and Israelis Disagree Over Cause of Death of Cabinet Minister

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT
Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein, in charge of the issue of Israeli settlements for the Palestinian Authority, argues with Israeli soldiers during a demonstration in the village of Turmus Aya near Ramallah, on Dec. 10, 2014. Abbas Momani—AFP/Getty Images

Ziad Abu Ain died after a confrontation with Israeli security forces

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israeli and Palestinian pathologists disagreed Thursday on whether a blow to the body or a bad heart was the main cause of death of a Palestinian Cabinet minister who collapsed shortly after scuffling with Israeli troops during a West Bank protest.

Palestinian doctors said Ziad Abu Ain died from a blow, not natural causes. Israeli doctors said the 55-year-old died from a blockage of the coronary artery due to arterial bleeding that could have been caused by stress.

Abu Ain’s death, followed by the Palestinian autopsy findings, could further inflame tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said Abu Ain was the victim of a crime and of a “barbaric act” and decreed three days of mourning.

Anticipating Palestinian protests after Abu Ain’s funeral later Thursday, the Israeli military has sent troop reinforcements to the West Bank. Earlier Thursday, several dozen Palestinian stone throwers clashed with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Abu Ain died Wednesday, shortly after a West Bank confrontation between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers that included pushing and shoving. At one point, a member of Israel’s paramilitary border police grabbed Abu Ain by the throat and pushed him. Troops also fired tear gas during the confrontation.

Several minutes after the scuffle, Abu Ain collapsed to the ground, clutching his heart. He received first aid and was evacuated, but died en route to a hospital.

An autopsy was conducted later Wednesday by Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli pathologists.

Palestinian pathologist Saber Aloul said, “the cause of death was a blow, and not natural causes.”

Palestinian Health Minister Jawad Awad said that “the results of the autopsy show that the ones who killed the martyr Ziad Abu Ain are the Israeli occupying forces.”

Awad said two Jordanian pathologists also signed off on those findings, but that the Israeli doctors held off on a signature. The Israeli health ministry said the Israeli doctors didn’t sign because it was a preliminary, not a final report.

Israeli pathologists Chen Kugel and Maya Furman said Abu Ain had a bad heart, including 80-percent blockage by plaque in the blood vessels of his heart, and that this “caused him to be more sensitive to stress.”

They said in a statement that the coronary artery was blocked due to bleeding under a layer of atherosclerotic plaque, and that this bleeding could have been caused by stress. The doctors said light bleeding and localized pressure were found on his neck.

They said they wanted to see the medical treatment report before reaching further conclusions.

Abu Ain’s portfolio included organizing protests against Israeli settlements and the West Bank separation barrier.

A member of Abbas’ Fatah movement, Abu Ain had spent several years in Israeli prisons. He was arrested in the United States in 1979 and extradited to Israel two years later, according to a nephew, Baha Abu Ain. In Israel, he was sentenced to life in prison for being a member of a cell that planted a bomb that killed two Israelis. Abu Ain was released in a 1985 prisoner swap.

During the second Palestinian uprising in 2002, he spent a year in administrative detention without trial or charges.

TIME India

Putin Turns to India With Energy, Defense Offers

INDIA-RUSSIA-POLITICS
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Dec. 11, 2014 Findlay Kember—AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin was holding talks with Indian leaders Thursday to strengthen trade and energy cooperation

(NEW DELHI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin was holding talks with Indian leaders Thursday to strengthen trade and energy cooperation with Asia’s third-largest economy as Western sanctions threaten to push his country’s economy to the brink of a recession.

Putin’s discussions with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to focus us on deepening ties at a time when New Delhi is perceived to be drawing closer to the United States, especially in areas such as defense and investment.

Indian officials said nearly two dozen agreements on space, defense cooperation and energy were likely to be signed.

“Looking forward to a productive visit that will take India-Russia ties to newer heights,” Modi tweeted.

Putin’s visit comes as Russia is faced with plunging global oil prices and a depreciating rouble that has battered its economy.

Russia’s relations with the Western nations have plummeted since it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March. The United States and Europe have imposed sanctions for what it says is Moscow’s role in providing Ukrainian militants with personnel and arms, something Moscow denies.

The annual summit meeting would provide an opportunity for the two nations to take stock of the “special and strategic partnership” that the two countries enjoy, said Ajay Bisaria, the top official in India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

“This is a very significant visit,” said Bisaria. “Russia is a long-standing and a steadfast partner for India.”

During the Cold War decades, India and the Soviet Union shared a close relationship, while the United States tilted toward India’s neighbor and rival, Pakistan, especially in the dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India bought billions of dollars with of military hardware from Moscow during the Soviet era.

In recent years, India has become the world’s biggest arms importer, with an economic boom enabling it to modernize its military. New Delhi’s has a huge shopping list including fighter aircraft, tanks, submarines and other defense equipment that Moscow hopes to sell.

Over the past decade, India has tried to diversify its defense purchases, buying military hardware from the United States, Israel and France. Last week India said it was very close to clinching a $15 billion deal with France for 126 fighter aircraft.

Despite its attempts at diversification, Russia would continue to be the prime supplier of military hardware, Indian officials said.

“Russia is our primary defense partner, and will remain so for decades,” said Bisaria.

India is expected to seek assurances from Putin that Russia’s current problems with the Western world will not push it closer toward China. With the increased tensions with the West, Putin has sought to improve Russia’s relations with China with a new gas pipeline project worth tens of billions of dollars.

Putin has voiced hope that energy cooperation with India will increase, saying Moscow welcomes Indian energy companies to tap prospective oilfields in the Arctic. Russia plans to start supplies of liquefied natural gas to India starting in 2017, he said.

___

Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov contributed to this report from Moscow.

TIME Aviation

FAA Issues Commercial Drone Permits to 4 Companies

Flying drone with camera
Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The government says it is granting four companies permission to use drones for aerial surveillance, construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections, bringing the total number of companies granted permits for commercial operations to 13.

The drones weigh less than 55 pounds and the firms have said they will they will keep the unmanned aircraft within line of sight of the operator.

Previously the only permits the Federal Aviation Administrational Aviation had issued were to two oil companies in Alaska and five aerial photography companies associated with television and film production.

The FAA said it has received 167 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

The agency is under pressure from Congress to speed access to the U.S. skies for companies that want to operate drones.

 

TIME brazil

Brazil Panel Delivers Report on Regime Brutality

(RIO DE JANEIRO) — Brazil’s National Truth Commission on Wednesday delivered a damning report on the killings, disappearances and acts of torture committed by government agents during the country’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship. It called for those responsible to face prosecution.

The 2,000-page report was delivered to President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist guerrilla who endured harsh torture and a long imprisonment in the early 1970s.

“Under the military dictatorship, repression and the elimination of political opposition became the policy of the state, conceived and implemented based on decisions by the president of the republic and military ministers,” the report states.

The commission “therefore totally rejects the explanation offered up until today that the serious violations of human rights constituted a few isolated acts or excesses resulting from the zeal of a few soldiers.”

Investigators spent nearly three years combing through archives, hospital and morgue records and question victims, their families as well as alleged perpetrators. The document represents Brazil’s most sweeping attempt yet to come to terms with the human rights abuses committed under the country’s military regime.

The seven-member commission, created by congress and sworn in by Rousseff in 2011, has no prosecutorial powers, and a 1979 amnesty law passed by the military regime prevents those responsible from being tried and punished. The report calls for the repeal of the amnesty.

The work exhaustively details the military’s “systematic practice” of arbitrary detentions and torture, as well as executions, forced disappearances and the hiding of bodies. It documents 191 killings and 210 disappearances committed by military authorities, as well as 33 cases of people who were disappeared and whose remains were later discovered.

“These numbers certainly don’t correspond to the total of deaths and disappearances but only to cases it was possible to prove,” the report said, citing “obstacles encountered in the investigation — especially the lack of access to armed forces’ documentation, which is officially said to have been destroyed.”

Rousseff, known for her steely demeanor, broke down during her speech at the report’s launch ceremony in the capital, Brasilia. The crowd gave her a standing ovation when she paused.

“Brazil deserves the truth. The new generations deserve the truth. And most of all, those who deserve the truth are those who lost family members, friends, companions and continue to suffer . as if they died again each and every day,” Rousseff said, halting midway through the sentence as she fought back tears.

“We, who believe in the truth, hope that this report contributes to make it so that ghosts from a sad and painful past are no longer able to find shelter in silence,” Rousseff said.

Rosa Cardosa, a Rio de Janeiro criminal lawyer and a commission member, said that meticulously documenting the military regime’s crackdown on students, labor unionists, factory workers, indigenous tribes and others labeled as subversives is crucial to healing Brazilian society.

“I think the report helps us advance, helps us move forward, helps society to understand this problem and sheds light on it,” said Cardosa, who during the regime provided legal representation for political prisoners, including Rousseff.

The document “gives voice to the victims, to the survivors and the families who were able to tell the story of those atrocities,” she said.

Brazil’s neighbors Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have been investigating crimes committed by military regimes in the same era, and top officials have been convicted and handed harsh prison sentences.

Many observers doubt the government’s political will to push for any such changes.

“There cannot be amnesty for torturers, and for them to be held accountable for their crimes the amnesty law must be rewritten or abrogated altogether,” said Elizabeth Silveira e Silva, who heads the Torture Never Again group.

Rousseff has maintained a low profile on issues related to the dictatorship. She rarely speaks about the abuses she suffered in detention, where she was bound and hung upside down, pummeled in the face and given electric shocks.

Political opponents have branded Rousseff as a “terrorist” bent on taking Brazil in a far-left political direction.

Her past, coupled with a massive kickback corruption scandal allegedly involving Rousseff’s Workers’ Party unfolding at state-run oil company Petrobras, has led many to predict that she’s unlikely to champion any change in the amnesty law.

TIME Congress

Lawmakers Agree on $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid speaks to members of the media after the Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the Capitol Dec. 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid speaks to members of the media after the Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the Capitol Dec. 9, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong—Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — Time running short, Republicans and Democrats agreed Tuesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and delay a politically-charged struggle over President Barack Obama’s new immigration policy until the new year.

In an unexpected move, lawmakers also agreed on legislation expected to be incorporated into the spending measure that will permit a reduction in benefits to current retirees at economically distressed multiemployer pension plans. Supporters said it was part of an effort to prevent a slow-motion collapse of a system that provides retirement income to millions, but critics objected vehemently.

Officials said final details of the sweeping bill to fund the government would be available later Tuesday, after it was posted online.

“The federal government’s going to run out of money in two days. … We’ve been trying to work with Republican leaders to avoid a shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said at midafternoon as final negotiations dragged on.

Speaker John Boehner said he hoped for a vote on the measure on Thursday, and officials expressed confidence they could overcome opposition from tea party-backed Republicans and avoid a government shutdown.

Senate approval would then be required to send it to Obama — one of the final acts of a two-year Congress far better known for gridlock than for accomplishment.

Not only a two-year Congress, but also a political era was drawing to a close as the lights burned late inside the Capitol on a December night.

For the first time in eight years, Republicans will have a Senate majority in January after a hugely successful midterm election, and newly elected GOP senators-elect participated in closed-door strategy sessions during the day.

Before time runs out on his majority, Reid said he wanted to assure confirmation of nine more of Obama’s judicial nominees and approve the appointment of Vivek Murthy as surgeon general.

Also on Congress’ must-do list is legislation to renew a series of expiring tax breaks, and a bill to authorize the Pentagon to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State forces in the Middle East.

The compromise spending bill will permit virtually the entire government to operate normally through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security.

Funds for that one agency will run out again in late winter. That will give Republicans an opportunity to try to use the expiration as leverage to force Obama to roll back a decision that will suspend the threat of deportation for an estimated 4 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

Not all Republicans agreed with the strategy of postponing a fight over immigration. Some conservative lawmakers demanded a change in the spending measure to deny the use of federal funds to carry out the president’s new policy. The leadership ruled otherwise, gambling that even with conservative defections, enough bipartisan support existed for the funding bill to assure its passage.

Earlier in the day, House Republicans removed one obstacle to passage of the spending measure by announcing they would pass legislation separately to renew a requirement for the federal government to assume some of the insurance risk in losses arising from terrorism.

In talks with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Republicans led by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas., agreed to the renewal, but said they wanted to roll back portions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that tightened federal regulation on the financial sector.

The stand-alone bill seemed likely to clear the House, but its fate in the Senate was uncertain.

By contrast, disagreement over an emerging proposal relating to multi-employer pension funds was not along party lines.

Officials said the talks between Rep. John Kline, R-Min., and George Miller, D-Calif., were designed to preserve benefits of current and future retirees at lower levels than currently exist, but higher than they would be if their pension funds ran out of money.

“We have a plan here that first and foremost works for the members of the unions, the workers in these companies and it works for the companies,” said Miller, retiring at year’s end after four decades in Congress.

Not everyone agreed.

The AARP, which claims to represent millions of retirement-age Americans, attacked the agreement as a “secret, last-minute closed door deal between a group of companies, unions and Washington politicians to cut the retirement benefits that have been promised to them.”

Also driving the talks was concern over the financial fate of the fund that assures multi-employer pensions at the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The agency said in its most recent annual report that the fund’s deficit rose to $42.2 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept, 30, up from $8.3 billion the previous year, and that the likelihood of its bankruptcy is 90 percent by 2025.

Agency figures show as many as 1.5 million retirees could be affected by any change in law to permit a reduction. An estimated 400,000 of them receive benefits from the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund.

___

Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Connie Cass and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

TIME NFL

Panthers’ Cam Newton Taken to Hospital After Crash

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been taken to a hospital after being involved in an auto accident in Charlotte.

Television footage shows Newton on a stretcher being placed in an ambulance Tuesday. The accident happened one block from the Panthers stadium.

It’s unclear how badly the 25-year-old he was injured.

Newton has 2,800 yards passing this season with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also has rushed for 425 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 4-8-1 record.

Newton, an Atlanta native, led the Auburn Tigers to a national championship.

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